The Government has announced £20 million of new funding to help the UK cope with the potential impacts of space weather events.
This money will support research projects to improve the ability of the Met Office to predict space weather events and reduce their potential impact. The money is being funded from the Government’s Strategic Priorities Fund.
Space weather is created by activity on the Sun’s surface which affects Earth and the rest of the solar system. It can be harmful to the Earth during a solar storm as the extra radiation from space can damage satellites. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From solar flares to magnetic storms, space weather can have a massive impact on mobile phones, transport, GPS signals and the electricity networks we rely on every day at home. The funding announced today will help turn Britain’s pioneering research into practical solutions that will protect against any adverse disruption.”
The funding will help transition UK world-leading space weather scientific knowledge into operational use at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC). This would lead to an improvement in space weather forecasts and benefit not only UK infrastructure operators but also help out international partners with forecast information.
Head of MOSWOC, Mark Gibbs, has welcomed the funding announcement. He said: “It will help to upgrade UK capabilities in space weather modelling and measurement. This is an important milestone in the development of space weather forecasts here in the UK and will see the biggest change in MOSWOC capability since the majority of services were introduced in 2014. We look forward to working with UK universities and research institutes to maximise the return on this investment.”
More specific forecasts
A key outcome of the programme will be to create forecasts that a much more specific to users for example, better services to support future UK space launches.
This new national funding comes ahead of the European Space Agency Council of Ministers meeting in November, where space weather programmes will be a key priority for the UK. The UK has also confirmed it is to establish the UK’s first National Space Council with further details to come in the following weeks.
For more information visit the Met Office’s website.